If you've been linen shopping, you've probably noticed the arms race of sorts among sheet manufacturers to produce the highest thread count sheets. What exactly is thread count and how do you avoid getting fleeced? Over at HowStuffWorks they've assembled a great guide on getting to the bottom of the thread count mystery. Thread count is determined by how many threads cross through a given square inch of the sheet. Basic cotton sheets are known as muslin, which is 150 count (75 threads across, 75 threads down) , from there things escalate. Some manufacturers even claim upwards of 1200 thread count.
So how are counts such as 800 or 1,200, which some manufacturers claim, even possible? How could you fit that many threads into a single inch? The short answer is you can't. "Some manufacturers use creative math to boost thread count," explains Consumer Reports
The HowStuffWorks guide goes on to detail the shifty practices that some sheet manufacturers engage in and what to look for in a quality product. As an interesting side note, many people who have purchased high thread count return to lower count muslin sheets after finding that the tightly woven higher thread count sheets don't breathe very well and can lead to night sweats. Photo by Mark Hillary.